When I started to formulate the Wine & Such concept, I knew I didn’t want to create just another retail wine shop. I am sure 99% of people who start a shop think the same thing. While easy said it is not so simple to pull off, yet I was determined to make the space feel different.
If you’ve had a conversation with me, I probably have told you SCHITT’S CREEK IS THE BEST SHOW ON THIS PLANET.
Seriously, I am obsessed. When deciding the look and feel of Wine & Such my storyboard inspiration was Rose Apothecary. David’s idiosyncrasy aside, there were tons of tidbits from this fictional space I knew I wanted to incorporate. Not only the design aesthetic, but championing of local brands, making it an open and inviting space (key Jocelyn working there for a day) so people didn’t just peer through the window hemming and hawing if they should go in because it looks too nice. I wanted to make Wine & Such a space with a small town feel, a store that even if you aren’t buying anything, you might stop in for a chat, or give a friendly wave through the window.
The other day I had an experience which made me realise I may have hit my own design brief. I was having a quiet afternoon, with just a handful of people in. Around 5pm a customer walked in and I started telling them about the shop. The ethos of our wines, and specifically about Cocktails By Mail. They had picked up a cocktail pouch and I told them the whole story of starting with plastic, then moving to our compostable pouches, how hard the journey was, yada yada yada. Turns out they just got their masters in sustainability, and so we started chatting all things green, sustainable, and ethical.
I should also mention at this point the customer had said “Do you know what your shop reminds me of? Have you seen Schitt’s Creek?” I am pretty sure I squealed in excitement.
During this time, another customer walked in and was browsing. A few minutes later, after overhearing our conversation they spoke up, ‘I work in sustainability, oh my gosh!’
From there, the three of us continued to have the most wonderful conversation about the state of the world, the environment, what (if anything) we can do to make an impact, and generally about life. It was amazing. This is the exact situation I envisioned when I first dreamt about opening Wine & Such. I hoped to create an environment, where yes people buy wine, but more importantly want to connect. Whether that’s through learning about the winemaker of the bottle they are purchasing, having a chat with myself about the best local pubs, or something as special as yesterday where three strangers had a conversation that created a life connection.
At the end of the day, it is these experiences which make life special. A delicious bottle of wine or food is enhanced and becomes more memorable because of the experience you have while consuming it. The Provence effect is a real thing. You go back to a restaurant not just because of the food, but for the hospitality. That’s why a restaurant with delicious food but terrible service fails. Be it the people you are with, the environment you are in, or the circumstances that got you there, all come together to make your individual experiences richer and more memorable.
I want Wine & Such to have this ethos at its core. Yes, come buy a bottle of wine, but enjoy the experience of choosing that bottle just as much. Whether because of our tasting notes, which I hope makes choosing a wine less intimidating, or the feel of the shop, which aims to feel more like a living room and less like a retail buying space, or our chat. I know the English sometimes don’t want to talk, but being American and coming from the bar business, I always am up for a natter (I am becoming so English, I can’t believe I said natter). Not only does it help me recommend the best wine or cider for you, but it is just plain nice to get to know our customers. I want Wine & Such to be a local shop at the end of the day, harkening back to how people used to shop in their villages. You knew the butcher’s name, you knew the baker. I want my customers to know me and Wine & Such, instead of just an anonymous transaction. (But don’t worry, if you want to just come in buy and go, I promise I won’t talk your ear off).
Wine is intimidating. Wine & Such will never be intimidating. You never have to worry about coming in and not knowing your Left Bank from Barossa. Wine is about communicating the story from the winemaker down to the drinker. It is our job to find the best way to communicate these stories, to make drinking your bottle the best experience possible. Wine is an agricultural product at the end of the day, with so much hard work going into each bottle. The more we celebrate the work that each winemaker puts into the bottle and the choices they make, the more we enjoy the drinking experience.